PortCon Maine is New England's oldest anime and gaming convention, held annually in southern Maine. The fan-based convention's organizers are committed to maintaining a relaxed, small-convention atmosphere which focuses on promoting socialization among attendees, guests, artists, and performers.
For its eighth year, PortCon Maine returned to the newly revamped Wyndham Hotel and Convention Center in South Portland after spending the previous year downtown. In attempt to control crowds, an attendance cap of 2,000 was enacted and a large outdoor tent was erected in the hotel's parking lot to house Main Events, including the cosplay masquerade, live band performances, Anime Unscripted, Extreme Geek, and the Saturday night rave. This arrangement was met with mixed success; although an improvement from the horrendously cramped main events rooms of years past, the weekend's perpetual downpours mixed with the lack of ventilation in the tent made for a toxic mix of wet floor coverings, sauna-like heat, and con funk. By Saturday night, the air inside the enclosure was barely breathable. Also, the tent's roof slanted sharply at the edges of the enclosure which caused difficulties for performers on the stage as their heads and props routinely hit the ceiling. Other creative uses of space were more successful in improving traffic, however, as the dealer's room, artists' alley and gaming rooms were easy to navigate. Despite these improvements, PortCon has outgrown its space at the Wyndham and would benefit from a new location.
I drove to Portland Thursday night and met up with Crazyflower, Steve, and Sketch to kick off the weekend with a rocking room party! Friday morning I got into my new Miku Hatusne costume from Vocaloid, and since it was pouring rain outside, the con center was darker than normal and the light-up parts of my costume really stood out. I met lots of Vocaloid fans, including a cute Rin cosplayer who had made a giant leek out of a swimming noodle! The game rooms were exceptionally crowded because of the poor weather, though I managed to play several rounds of Uno. That evening I went to the main events tent for Anime Unscripted, which had the stage set up along one of the shorter sides. Jekka and Sketch were joined by voice actors Tiffany Grant and Samantha Inoue-Heart for the show, the highlight of which was a new game entitled "Slideshow Roulette." The topic was "Kabuki Theatre in the Soviet Union," and the slides included photos of cats, Neil Patrick Harris, and brain scans (Jekka's response: "Kabuki has been shown to stimulate sections of the brain which Soviets find pleasurable, such as warmth, vodka, and overseas marriage.") We were practically crying we were laughing so hard at some of the responses.
Saturday the rain let up and Crazy Flower and I got into our masquerade skit costumes: Princess Tutu for me and Chiyo Mihama from Azumanga Daioh for her. At craftsmanship judging, the judges really liked my tutu and accessory work while they were impressed by Crazy Flower's mascot-style outfit, which included an under-suit stuffed with cold packs inside to prevent her from overheating. When we reported for the show at the Green Room, memories of being crammed into the disgustingly small, hot, and poorly ventilated space during PortCon's last stay at the Wyndham were still fresh in my mind. Thankfully we were allowed to line up outdoors outside the tent and wait our turn to perform, though it was almost impossible for those of us in line to watch the show. Steve and Jekka were hosting again as Syaoran and Sakura from Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle to great success; unfortunately the sloping angle of the tent's ceiling interfered with several performances. Luckily, CrazyFlower and I's skit, "Dancing's For The Birds," was unaffected by this issue, and our silly little performance got some great reactions from the crowd. My favorite skit featured several anime and video game characters at a McDonald's. The script was clever, the dialogue was well acted, the jokes were funny, and they executed the whole thing really well!
After the masquerade wrapped up, I did a photoshoot of Jekka and Steve in their costumes and grabbed dinner before hitting up the rave for a short period. Although I liked the music a lot, the tent made the atmosphere unbearable. The dampness from the rain had soaked through the high traffic carpeting and was combining with the con funk of attendees. The flaps to the tent had been closed to keep the music from traveling too far outside the parking lot, which prevented air and moisture from escaping and making the inside a humid, slick, disgusting-smelling mess. Later that night we hit up Ladyhawke's 21+ Mixology panel. The panel was a blast and the maturity and humor level was refreshing. We learned a lot about alcohol and mixing that I didn't know at all and swapped infamous party stories into the night. Sunday morning I packed up my car and drove to the Wyndham to catch EllyStar's panel on buying anime, and after lunch hung out for a bit with Tiffany Grant. She had noticed the rather large bald spot I had right above my forehead that I was trying, unsuccessfully, to cover up by parting my pair to the side. "What happened to you?!" she asked. "A wig," Sketch and Gale responded. I ended up telling her about how my JunJun wig from our Dead Moon Circus Skit at Anime Boston had pulled out a chunk of my hair. I had freaked out for several weeks until it started to grow back. Hey, at least we won Best In Show, right? Shortly after that I said my goodbyes to everyone left and another successful PortCon behind me.